I just finished reading "The Kid" by Dan Savage, and I loved it. It's an adoption memoir--one of my favorite genres. Or would that be a sub-genre? Anyway, this one has a bit of a twist, as the adoptive parents are a gay couple and the birthmom is a "gutter punk."
I learned a lot from "The Kid". For example, I've always wondered why it's politically incorrect to say that someone "put up" a child for adoption. That's the term I had heard my whole life, and it never occured to me that it was hurtful or to wonder where it came from in the first place. Well, according to Dan Savage, it has its origins in the orphan trains, when city folk would place adoptable children on trains headed out west. At each stop, the children would be "put up" on platforms and the rural folk would come look them over to see which ones looked like they'd be good farm hands, and those were the children who were adopted. It's no wonder that term is seen as offensive.
In "The Kid," I thought Dan Savage did a wonderful job in being frank and funny and brutally honest. Read what he has to say about why open adoption is important:
"But to see Melissa's pain at the moment she gave up that baby, and to feel pain ourselves at that same moment, drove home the logic of open adoption, its absolute necessity.
"In a closed adoption, we wouldn't have witnessed the moment our son's mother gave him up. That we saw what we did, however painful, is to the ultimate benefit of the kid in the car seat. The idea of starting off as his parents without experiencing what we did was suddenly unimaginable. One day, D.J. may worry that his mother didn't love him. Because of open adoption, we'll be able to sit him down and tell him about this day; we'll be able to describe the moment Melissa gave him to us, and how hard it was for her. We won't have to guess at what it was like, or tell him that we're sure his mother loved him. We know she loved him; we saw it.
"And seeing how hard it was for Melissa to hand us her baby, and knowing that we would never have been a family if she didn't trust us with him, how could we even think of denying her the right to see her baby as he grows? Having seen what we did, how could we begrudge her visits, pictures, or phone calls? After what she had given us, how could we deny her anything?"
Adoption is ultimately based on loss, and as adoptive parents, we often forget that. Someone else's loss is our gain. And it's not just the birth families that feel loss; our children feel loss too. That's not to say I don't think adoption is a good thing--I think it's one of God's perfect miracles, like taking two wrongs (infertile couple and unwanted pregnancy) and making a right. But at the same time, I believe that it's good for us as adoptive parents to be a witness to the loss and the pain underlying our miracle, to recognize and honor it, to never forget it, to not pretend it isn't there.
So, last week, I watched a new TV, "Find My Family," fully expecting to be outraged. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I missed it this week, so my opinion is based solely on the first episode, but I thought that the show was pretty good.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the show reunites adult adoptees with their birth families. In the first episode, an adult adoptee knew that she had an older birth sibling. The show found not only her older brother, but also a younger sister that she did not know about. In the other storyline, an black adult adoptee who was adopted by a white family was reunited with her birth mother. Both stories were heartwarming and in my opinion, portrayed adoption in a positive light.
I think any time you put people in an emotional personal situation on TV, there is some element of exploitation, but again, I think the show took the high road. Do any one see it this week? What did you think?